I have so many plushie sharks, I have honestly lost count of them.
To be fair, they're not ALL sharks, either. I've got Dory the Clownfish from Finding Nemo, as well as Crush the Turtle, and two Nemo's, who I call Big Nemo and Little Nemo, respectively. There are plush animals in there who aren't even fish at all, like Tuppence the Sheep, and Perry the Platypus.
The thing that makes all these guys special is that the vast majority of them were gifts from other people, who know how very much I love sharks. Some were ones Missy got for me when we were on a special outing, or on a vacation.
This is about 75% of my collection - I've got more yet in my bedroom, or waiting to be unpacked from our move. I love every last one of these guys, because each of them carry a little love to me from someone or somewhere else.
As a child, I had a pretty oddball upbringing, where I spent a lot of time alone, or had to learn to be emotionally self-sufficient. I grew up quickly, and learned to provide for myself, emotionally. Emotional self-sufficiency is sort of the tofu of existence - you can survive on it, but it's bland, and unsatisfying.
In my secret moments of doubt, the nasty inner voice in my brain sometimes tells me that I'm not thought about when I'm not around, that I'm unloved, and unimportant to others.
Let me be clear, I know that is complete nonsense.
When people drop me a line and let me know they're thinking of me, or send me a funny shark image or photo, or get me a plushie like this, it's like a big, warm, validating, punch-that-inner-voice-in-the-face hug to me.
I'm not a materialistic person - stuff doesn't mean much to me. But these guys, my plushies, they're not things - they're little pieces of love someone else gives me to hang onto. I am so grateful for them, and even more grateful for the many friends and loved ones who gave them to me.